ELKTON — Long-time Elkton Commissioners Charles Givens and Earl Piner, Jr. both filed for re-election Monday, looking to continue to serve the people as the town is poised for transformation.
Givens and Piner are fixtures in Elkton politics, as both have held their seats for more than a decade. Both are running once again in hopes to see through legacy projects, such as the community center and unprecedented economic development in the Southfields project.
“I’ve seen some changes over the years and I like the direction we’re headed, and the team we’ve built for Team Elkton,” Givens told the Whig.
“But there’s still more that exists to do and I have a large block of constituents to serve, and I’d like to continue to do so.”
Givens, 74, is seeking his fifth term in office.
Piner, 62, is vying for his fourth term. If both men tally up the most votes in the May 12 election, Givens would serve the town 24 years, while Piner would make it an even 20 years.
Givens is a retired assistant principal at Elkton High School, but he continues to mentor students in Elkton schools. He also coaches youth basketball and is a parishioner at Wright’s African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Born and raised in Elkton, Givens left town only to attend college at Morgan State University and when he taught physical education in Philadelphia. Now he lives on Clinton Street — where he grew up — with his wife Alena.
Looking to the future, Givens said Elkton is at a moment when it’s dealing with numerous property projects, such as acquiring and renovating the LTC James Victor McCool Armory for its future use and the community center.
Southfields, the $700 million mixed-use development proposed for south Elkton, would bring a major shift to Elkton as well, Givens said. When and if that project comes to fruition, he foresees there could be some growing pains.
“The challenges ahead Elkton faces is the building of our tax base, and we also want our water supply to sustain it,” he said. “You don’t want to take water for granted but we still have to consider whether we have the capacity to serve continued development.”
“Elkton is growing bigger than what it was,” Givens added. “We just have to take care of who lives here.”
While Piner admitted that he had some reservations about serving another term, his passion for public service pushed him forward.
“I always like helping other people out, but I never knew this was my passion until I started to think about it,” Piner told the Whig this week.
“It’s been a joy and a pleasure to do it. My first term, I was learning. My second term, I grew a little more confident. I’ve started something and I would like to see it through.”
Piner was born and raised in Elkton, and currently works at W.L. Gore and Associates. He’s also served as a coach for several youth sports, including baseball, basketball and volleyball.
Piner first started his political career with the Board of Education, but transitioned to town government after seven years.
One priority Piner wants to see through, if re-elected, is the community center. He and Givens have been the loudest voices of support for it as far back as 2001. The new center on Booth Street will be completed next spring.
“We were told Elkton would never ever be able to afford it,” he said. “We are moving forward in a positive direction. I truly do think we have the best board in the state.”
Piner and his wife, Debbie, have been married for 40 years and have three children and 11 grandchildren. He is a parishioner of Abundant Life Worship Center, and is a gospel singer.
On the horizon, Piner said that capturing lost water in the town’s system will be the main focus of his fourth term if he is reelected. If the town is successful in finding the lost water, he would advocate reducing the fee from $150 to $100 per quarter.
“That’s lost revenue, and we want to recapture it. Not just for our sake, but for the benefit of the entire town. I don’t want us to hold onto that revenue, I’d want to see it come back to the residents,” he said.
As both incumbents embark on the campaign trail, Givens said he looks to continue service to his constituents, and looks forward to meeting more residents along the way.
“The most important thing is the constituents and listening to what they have to say and working with them,” he said.
Piner hopes to continue the foundation that was laid by the board, as he sees that as the best way to continue to serve the town.
“We don’t agree all the time, but we’re not arguing. We work it out, and when there’s an issue we don’t bury it, we work through it. There’s not a lot of boards that are like that,” he said.
Both incumbents face Cody Kirk in the May 12 election. Kirk made a name for himself when he ran concurrent races for town commissioner and county council in the 2018 election.
The filing deadline for the town’s 2020 election is March 13.